Calling all LA leaf peepers! Outside temps might still be toasty, but there are still plenty of places a short drive from Los Angeles where the leaves are a turnin’. Throw the whole family in the car to find your next autumn adventure!Less
Located at the base of the San Gabriel mountains, the LA Arboretum is a great place to experience a New England-style fall without ever getting on a plane. Boasting 127 acres of trees and plants from all over the world, the Arboretum produces a brilliant display of colors. Little ones can collect fallen red leaves from all of the Freeman’s maple trees or snag a few beautiful yellow ones fallen from the Shagbark hickories.
Beautiful and historic Lacy Park is home to several varieties of deciduous trees, spanning over 30 acres of lush beauty. An afternoon stroll around its mile-long walking path is sure to foster that fall feeling in the whole family so make sure to have a thermos of hot cocoa on stand-by for an after-walk treat. Bring bikes, scooters and roller-skates as the path is perfect for all things with wheels (and fur—take your four-legged friends for a leashed romp around the dog-friendly grounds).
Boasting almost 1500 acres, Whittier Narrows Park in the City of South El Monte and is one of Los Angeles County’s largest recreation areas. Nearly every ecosystem is represented here from swamps to forest to desert, making for lots of interesting plant and animal life to check out! Have your leaf lovers take their scooters for a ride while you stroll around the 3-mile walking trail soaking in all of the different sorts of colors this nature reserve has to offer.
Palos Verdes is a pretty amazing place to visit in general and when you add cool coastal breezes into the mix, you get a whole lot of fall color options at South Coast Botanic Garden. With 87 acres of well-maintained flora and fauna, this is truly PV's best kept horticultural secret and a must-visit in the autumn months! You won't find New England oak trees here but pink leaves from the Silk Fox Trees and the vibrant orange blooms from the Dwarf Trumpet Trees will be bursting with colors.
The Santa Monica Mountains provide some of the best opportunities for local leaf-peeping, and at Malibu Creek Park (or what the locals call the “Yosemite of Southern California”) you’ll discover some lovely old-growth trees that turn all shades of fall as cooler air comes to town (keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful yellow-leaf Sycamore varieties!). A great place for beginning hikers, Malibu Creek lives up to its name with a gurgling stream and low elevation trails.
Let's be honest - there is never really a bad time of the year to visit The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens. And while the gardens in Autumn might not pass for the backwoods of Vermont, it's still a wonderful spot to see trees you might not associate with all things Fall (but certainly come alive throughout the season)! Check out the colorful leaves on trees like the American Sweetgum, Koelreuteria Henryi and Lion’s Ear.
Lake Arrowhead is a beautiful, cozy, and quaint mountain resort. Like Big Bear, it’s often thought of as a winter or summer retreat, but the fall months are when the foliage is part of the stunning scenery making this town a must-visit. Black oak, cottonwood, and maple trees create a painters palette of rose, orange, and gold colors that will delight the most seasoned of foliage followers.
Like Lake Arrowhead, people tend to think mainly of the snow in the winter or maybe the lake in the summer in Big Bear. Fall, however, is also a spectacular time to visit this forested getaway. You can leave the city behind and with the crisp blue skies, the smell of pine, and the trees turning those beautiful fall shades you can pretend you’re trekking through the White Mountains.
If you're looking for that quaint mountain town feel that's less crowded than some of the other well-known options, Idyllwild is the place to go. Nestled in the heart of the San Jacinto mountains, this cozy spot is surrounded by pine trees, cottonwoods, and cedar trees that come alive mid to end October with vibrant shades of golds, yellows, and orange. Because the town is full of locally-owned restaurants and shops, Idyllwild has tons of small-town atmosphere which lends itself to leaf peeping.
Now’s the time to head to Mammoth Lakes—Rock Creek Canyon, Lakes Basin and the Town of Mammoth Lakes along with Mammoth Rock Trail is currently putting on a show and is near its peak fall foliage! And while this trip isn’t do-able in a day (it’s about a 5-hour drive from LA), spending the weekend in the Eastern Sierras is always a good time.